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aviation

Nov 19, 2012

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The detailed insight into an alternative survival strategy for Qantas in a report in the Australian Financial Review appears to have powerful friends among pilots and shareholders, but can a revolt against the failing strategies of the current management come fast enough to save the carrier?

No-one knows the answer to this question, not even the plotters said to include former CFO Peter Gregg, and vulture, er, venture capitalist Mark Carnegie.

But let’s consider the reasons for urgency.

The Joyce strategy of stopping investment in Qantas international until it achieves whatever the current board sees as an acceptable return on investment is like stopping in the fast lane on a freeway to change a tire.

The rest of the sector isn’t going to wait for Joyce, who has been a total failure at Qantas, and who has brought ruin on the share price, the carrier’s reputation and its relationship with its most valuable asset, its people, to get it right.

Joyce calling time out on Qantas long haul in terms of new investments is making a call no one else, including proposed strategic partner, Emirates, is going to hear or heed.

Adding a fare and capacity war to domestic Qantas activities is scarcely the stuff of genius either. The market needs to know how Jetstar in its own right is faring, and why there appears to be a problem with yields and scheduling with Qantas mainline.

It isn’t a legitimate investment to shuffle around A330s and refurbish aged fuel guzzling high maintenance 767s in the full service supposedly premium product when brand new Dreamliner 787-8s are consigned to a Jetstar international wide body operation that lacks total transparency in reporting and has been reducing some of its scheduling.

And cutting off access to real Qantas flights all the way to Europe and the UK for travellers boarding in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane in favour of urging them to join the other ex Qantas customers who have already switched loyalties to Emirates brings no obvious benefit to Qantas shareholders.

The current board seems fearful of being in the business of long haul flight, and complicit in actions that are now seriously undermining Qantas domestic.

Neither the board nor the CEO have served Qantas with distinction. How much longer can this self harm persist?

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